Effects of Stress on the Body


The body is naturally designed to face both positive and negativestress. Stress has various effects on the body systems. The bodyreacts to both the positive and negative stress. Stress has bothshort-term and adverse effects. The body responds in different ways,and this affects the body systems in various ways.

The short-term effect of stress on the muscular-skeletal system ismuscle tension. It is an involuntary action of the body to protectitself from pain in injury. When the stress passes, the musclesrelax. A prolonged stress in an individual becomes the muscle tensefor a long period result in self-related disorders (Van der Kolk etal., 2012). The tension results in a headache as well as well asmigraine headaches.

Stress also causes increased breathing. Although it is not a problemfor many people, prolonged increase breathing can have detrimentaleffects on the respiratory system. For example, acute stress that isprolonged affects the respiratory system and this has been known tocause panic attacks. It can also trigger asthma attacks whereby thereis constriction of the air passage in the lungs (Van der Kolk et al.,2012).

Stress also has several impacts on the cardiovascular system. Theshort-term effects of stress intensify the heartbeat and increasedblood flow. These enable the body to react to the flight. The bodygoes back to normal after stressful period elapses. However,prolonged periods of stress results in repeated heart contractionsand relaxations (Van der Kolk et al., 2012). The hormones releasedcan take a toll on the body and it can result in increased chances ofheart attacks and hypertension.

The gastrointestinal system of different individuals reactsdifferently to stress. According to Van der Kolk et al. (2012), somepeople develop an increased appetite while others lose it. Therefore,some people take in large amounts of food while others reduce theirintake. A consequent successful management of the conditions helpsthe body to return to normal. However, prolonged effects may resultin obesity for those who have increased appetites while those who donot eat fall in the risk of malnutrition. The bowel movements changewith the onset of stress. Various problems like constipation arecommon. The long-term consequences of the irregular bowel movementsmay result in gastrointestinal diseases including Crohn`s andischemic bowel disease (Van der Kolk et al., 2012).

The endocrine system is also affected by stress in various ways. Theshort-term consequences include the release of the stress hormone bythe cells in the brain. However, prolonged release of this hormonemay contribute to mood swings, sleeplessness and memory disturbances(Van der Kolk et al., 2012).

Conversely, eustress influences one’s self-efficacy. It resultsfrom how one perceives a situation and not necessarily its reality(O’Sullivan, 2011). Eustress enables one to work towards theirprime performance, and it usually leads to desirable outcomes even inchallenging situations. As O’Sullivan (2011) puts it, a continuedeustress results in what psychologists refer to as the flow. Duringthe flow, an individual in wholly absorbed into the activity at handand they unconsciously avoid distracters in the immediatesurroundings. Individuals experience prime performance during thestate, and they experience enjoyment and intrinsic motivation.

In conclusion, stress can be either positive or negative. Negativestress affects the body systems in various ways. The body can managethe short-term effects but when during prolonged stress, the bodydevelops complications that may adversely affect an individual’shealth. Eustress has positive outcomes both in the short andlong-term. It results in self-efficacy whereby individual set highgoals, and it leads people to the flow whereby they exhibit primeperformance.


O’Sullivan, G.(2011). The Relationship Between Hope, Eustress, Self-efficacy, andLife Satisfaction among Undergraduates. Social IndicatorsResearch, 101(1), 155-172.

Van der Kolk, B. A.,&amp McFarlane, A. C. (Eds.). (2012). Traumatic Stress: TheEffects of OverwhelmingEexperience on Mind, Body, and Society.New York, N.Y: Guilford Press.